French Press Basics for the Absolute Beginner

The french press is internationally the most popular way to make coffee and even in the United States it is considered to be one of the most popular methods of making coffee.  They are very simple to learn how to use and only require a little bit of practice (plus the right equipment, obviously) to get you started making delectable coffee at home.  Here is how to use a french press in just a few simple steps.

You will need to grind coffee to a course grind setting in order to properly brew french press coffee.  If the grind setting is too fine you will get a good extraction from the coffee grounds but you will end up with coffee grounds in your coffee after you press down the wire mesh.  Since we don’t want any coffee grounds in our actual cup of coffee it is important that we use course enough coffee grounds.

You will need a kettle that you can use to heat water.  You will want water that is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit in order to get the best possible extraction.  This is very simple if you have a thermometer (so go get one).

Measure approximately two grams of coffee per ounce of water you will be using – you can experiment with these measurements once you are practiced in using your french press, but when starting out it is best to just stick with the standards.

Dump the coffee grounds into the bottom of the french press and then follow them with the water.  Set the french press lid on top once you have filled it with coffee, as this will reduce the amount of heat that is lost.

After one minute take the lid off and stir up all of the coffee and water.  This will allow for a more thorough extraction.  You will also notice that when you lift the lid of the french press there will be what we call a ‘bloom’.  Basically, when the coffee and water meet the grounds will start to rise up towards the top of the press pot.  They literally bloom upwards into a hill of coffee grounds.  It is important that we stir it back down so that we can maximize the extraction – if we were to just leave the coffee as is we would still end up with an alright cup of coffee but we would miss out on a lot of the flavor nuances and subtle notes of the coffee bean that we will be able to taste thanks to stirring the bloom.

After another three minutes plunge the wire mesh down into the french press and pour yourself a cup.  I generally recommend that you plunge the mesh down slowly and carefully.  This is partly because you don’t want to break the wire mesh, but it also allows for a better extraction as you slowly separate the used up grounds from your fresh pot of french press coffee.  Now you will have a delicious cup of warm, well extracted french press coffee.

Happy Brewing.